Arts & Life
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This article was published 11/6/2019 (399 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
If all goes according to plan, Winnipeg's headless St. Volodymyr statue will be fully repaired and back where it belongs by late fall, says the benefactor footing the bill.
"The important thing is putting it back together the way it was," said gallery owner David Loch. On May 20, vandals outside the Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Vladimir and Olga removed the bronze statue's head and part of its staff and cross.
After media reported the statue's desecration and decapitation, the head was found the following Saturday in the 500 block of Dufferin Avenue. The two people who discovered the head dropped it off on the front steps of the church inside a black backpack. The police sent the backpack for forensic tests. The statue's staff and cross have never been found.
Loch says he is having the statue repaired out of devotion to his friend, Leo Mol, the statue's late sculptor.
Mol's St. Volodymyr statue was blessed by Pope John Paul II during his trip here in 1984, and the site where it stands, at the corner of McGregor Street and Flora Avenue, was dedicated in 1988 to mark the millennium anniversary of his baptism in the year 988, and the beginning of Christianity in the Ukraine.
The vandals climbed atop the statue and used some kind of power tool or grinder to remove the head, said Loch.
The repair, which still needs to be approved by the parish council, won't be easy, said Loch. The statue will be removed and transported to a studio where it can be repaired, he said. Loch enlisted the help of Manitoba sculptor Peter Sawatzky, who knew Mol, as well as a Winnipeg monuments expert who designed its base and placed the statue outside the cathedral.
"There's nobody better to move the sculpture than Charles Brunet," said Loch. "It was never meant to be removed but he's reassured me that with some care and attention we'll be able to."
Sawatzky can sculpt the piece of St. Volodymyr's staff and cross still missing from the statue, and create a mould for a foundry in Billings, Montana will produce the bronze piece. The sculptor can then reattach it -- and the recovered head -- inside his studio. The statue will then be returned to its place outside the cathedral.
"Hopefully this will never happen again," Loch said.
The parish council and its executive will be discussing ways to tighten security, said chairman Nick Chubenko. "Proper lighting and a video camera are two of the options we're going to be looking at." The church is grateful for the help of Loch, who's visited the statue a number of times with the experts who can fix it.
"We will be acknowledging his generosity and all the time and work he's put into this," said Chubenko.
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